According to the Congressional Budget Office, in 2017 the federal government spent $610 billion on non-defense discretionary spending, including housing assistance, transportation, education and more. $614 billion was spent on mandatory entitlements, including unemployment, SNAP (food stamps), federal retirement, etc. Overall, the federal government brought in $3.3 trillion but spent $4.0 trillion.
While a large amount of the government's spending went toward programs that support seniors, including social security and medicare (totaling to about $1.53 trillion), there is still an opportunity to reroute other expenditures in conjunction with public-private sector partnership to help Americans get back on their feet, decrease the amount of entitlement money dispersed, and help increase federal revenues long enough to help pay down our debts and then move on into real, permanent tax reductions for all Americans.
Revamping the Entitlement Model: A New Approach
Jobs Training - With first hand experience, The Urban Lobby has witnessed the failings of the social service system in helping Americans get back on their feet. Highly skilled workers and professionals are given jobs lists with menial and part-time work that do an abysmal job of getting people back on their feet. When jobs are eliminated and industries fail, people need access to training programs that will help them change careers or translate previous skills into new industries so they can live with dignity.
Instead of telling people to settle for less than they are worth, unemployment and public assistance programs requiring job searches should offer short term jobs training courses in high demand fields and then place course graduates with companies that have a need for the skill.
This will require public-private partnership in getting people to work, and will help both government and industry respond to trends in the markets as technology eliminates skilled and unskilled positions. Rerouting expected payout in government benefits to investing in training courses, and expanding current public assistance tax incentives or other corporate subsidies to include corporations that participate in course development and execution, hire graduates, or offer apprenticeship programs should help achieve this goal.
Turn Government into a Venture Capitalist (VC) - Another avenue that able-bodied entitlement recipients should be able to go down is that of entrepreneurship. Enterprise and self-sufficiency are part of the fabric of America as well as what makes the country so exceptional. In partnership with the Small Business Association (SBA), an alternative to fruitless job searches can be a course in entrepreneurship that requires the development of a sound business plan in order to pass the course.
Successful completion of the course will yield a small business grant to help the individual begin a new life and career, and participants are required to remain in touch with their SCORE mentor for the first 6 months to a year of business to ensure they are successful. At the end of the first 6 months to a year of business, the program participant will be connected with a number of private investors, Angel investors, private VC's, etc. for further investment, mentorship, and business development to lock in the participant's success.
Re-route long-term (up to 60 months) entitlements to more cost effective investment grants. What's government's ROI? New tax revenue, of course!
Financial Literacy - Whether applying for a new job, signing up for an apprenticeship, taking a in-demand skills course, or being guided into the world of business and entrepreneurship, all recipients of entitlements of any kind will be required to take a financial literacy course to ensure that Americans in transition know how to manage their money and, hopefully, never have to return to receiving public assistance again.
These courses can be developed and executed in public-private partnership with financial institutions that are now subsidized by the federal government. The development and teaching of these courses can be a new requirement for financial institutions to fill in addition to the Dodd-Frank compliance requirements, or as a general requirement to receive full subsidies, to encourage good faith between consumers and financial institutions.
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